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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2019: Nigeria 1-0 Tunisia: What did we learn?

12:46 EAT 18/07/2019
Odion Ighalo - Nigeria
The Super Eagles secured their eighth Africa Cup of Nations bronze, thanks to Odion Ighalo’s third-minute strike against the Carthage Eagles

  • Gernot Rohr - Nigeria

    Super Eagles no longer dazzle

    Gone are the days when Nigerian fans emerge from a game involving the Super Eagles and are satisfied with the performance of their team, regardless of the outcome of the match. These days, the drastic reduction in the number of creative players in the pack coupled with Gernot Rohr’s preference for a more direct style of play has left the team a difficult side to watch.

    Despite boasting superstars from major leagues across the globe, Nigeria underwhelmed against Tunisia – churning out what was arguably their poorest display in the tournament. Prior to the 3-2 win over Cameroon in the Round of 16, the Super Eagles only managed five goals from their previous six games – highlighting their struggles with inventiveness. They might have won in six out of their previous ten matches – including the game against the Carthage Eagles, but as it was evident in the defeats against Madagascar and Algeria, there are limits to games that can be won with a subpar display.

  • Samuel Kalu - Nigeria

    Samuel Kalu inspired from dead-ball situations

    In a game engrossed with more negatives than positives, it’s encouraging to see the Bordeaux winger flourish with his free-kicks. Since Austin Jay-Jay Okocha’s last involvement with the Super Eagles in 2006, the team have struggled to utilize set-pieces. They were a complete eyesore with virtually every one of their dead-ball chances against the Carthage Eagles until Samuel Kalu’s 90th-minute introduction.

    Kalu’s first contribution upon his introduction saw him draw a brilliant save from Mozez Ben Cherifia in goal for Tunisia, with a free-kick from 35 yards out. The 21-year-old delivered another brilliant set piece afterwards to affirm his quality from dead-ball situations – something Rohr would be delighted with as he looks to draw the positives from his team’s showing in the tournament.

  • Alain-Giresse-Tunisia-Afcon

    Tunisia should be doing better

    The Carthage Eagles are ranked 25th in the world, but aside from their 3-0 triumph over tournament debutants Madagascar in the quarter-final, the North African giants struggled to live up to expectations in many of their games in Egypt – especially the group stage where they failed to pick up a single win. For a team ranked second in Africa only behind tournament finalists Senegal, they surely can do better. Despite their dominance over an utterly poor Nigeria team, Alain Giresse’s men disappointed with their final output on the ball. A huge drop in the spot in the next Fifa ranking wouldn’t come as a surprise, following these sorts of underwhelming displays.

  • Francis Uzoho - Nigeria

    Redemption for Francis Uzoho

    Rohr went into last year’s World Cup tournament in Russia with Francis Uzoho his preferred option in goal. However, following strings of disappointing showings between the sticks in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, Uzoho lost his spot to Daniel Akpeyi and became Rohr’s third-choice goalkeeper in Egypt. The Super Eagles coach was left with no option but to return the 20-year-old shot-stopper to the starting line-up against Tunisia, after watching Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa disappoint in previous games. Uzoho put in an overly impressive display on Wednesday night, and should the German tactician decide to overhaul his goalkeeping department going forward, the Deportivo La Coruna loanee will most definitely be spared.

  • John Ogu and William Paul Ekong Nigeria

    Super Eagles rebuild a must for Gernot Rohr

    Rohr has shown so far as head coach of the Super Eagles that he seldom tinkers with his squad of players – maintaining the same group for a lengthy period. However, there is a need to start another rebuilding process with the qualifiers for the next Afcon tournament expected to kick off in September.

    The goalkeeping department would definitely top Rohr’s future agenda as he looks to find a lasting solution to what has been a long-time issue since Carl Ikeme premature exit from the squad, following the goalkeeper’s battle with cancer.  There is also need to find replacements for ageing players in the squad like captain John Obi Mikel, John Ogu and defender Leon Balogun, while players like Alex Iwobi and Ahmed Musa have failed to thrive in their respective positions – and will thus require fresh talents to bolster those positions.